The Cincinnati Enquirer did a story and 3 articles about the kidnapping and deprogramming of 2 sisters, Barbara and Linda Fabe, by their parents, residents of Cincinnati. This article was falsely titled "Cults Sophisticated In The Use Of Mind Control," an assertion for which they gave no evidence and which was disproved by the articles themselves. Like many of their age and class at the time, they had been "dabbling in various spiritual groups which made promises of peace, happiness and God."
The sisters seemed to be typical premies of the late 1970s, they "travelled widely to see Guru Maharaj Ji, to hear him and to pay homage: "I kissed his feet at every program," Barbara said. "That was supposed to be the highest experience." At a major DLM festival in Orlando Linda joined the darshan line, bowing and kissing His feet: "(I) didn't feel anything. I was pretty miserable." Linda "was taught how to roll her tongue back to taste God's nectar, to press her closed eyes to see the divine light with her 'third eye,' to hold her ears to hear the divine music, and to concentrate on her breathing in order to hear the word of God. But I didn't experience anything in my knowledge session. Which is what you'd call disappointing." Despite these disappointments, they felt sure some of the premies were actually feeling that experience of peace, bliss and God that the guru promised, it was just they weren't.
Linda recalled how she "knew" that the young guru was God. She went to a large hall with thousands of other premies: "The energy was high and the anticipation was high … it was the group buildup. And then Guru Maharaji came out. He walked out. Everybody was screaming, screaming. 'Bolie Shri Satguru Dev Maharaj Ki Jai' Tears came to my eyes, which is very significant because I rarely cry … To me, that was proof. Oh, I felt so much energy when Guru Maharaj Ji walked into the room. I have to recieve this meditation. He is the One. This is proof to me. I am positive. From that point on, I was hooked. I was completely and totally hooked. That was all the proof I needed."
Once hooked, you found yourself on a treadmill: "There also were commandments to be followed by a good premie, Barbara said, including regular attendance at satsang, constant meditation, remembering the holy word, and having faith in Guru Maharaj Ji. It's very guilt producing. You can't do any of them. And you're told these are the commandments and you're always striving, always striving and feeling guilty, 'Dammit, I'm not meditating enough, I'm not meditating enough …"
Neither the Fabe sisters nor the Cincinnati Enquirer gave any evidence for their theory that Divine Light Mission members used sophisticated methods of Mind Control. According to the articles, they used the time-tested methods of persuasion and influence: repetition, zealotry, empathy, sincerity, excitement, mass hysteria, promises too good to be true, face to face contact, insistence on the doubt being caused by the evil Mind. Methods the Enquirer concedes are "as central to indoctrination in DLM as it is in any religion." The article says: "Barbara and Linda are typical of the bright, strong-willed, affluent, white undergraduates drawn to unconventional religions in the last decade (my bold). Successful cult recruitment did not outlast the 1970s.
The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) * Mon, Feb 5, 1979 * Page 23
Cults Sophisticated In The Use Of Mind Control
By Ben L. Kaufmann
Barbara Fabe would have killed for her guru.
"Yeah," the North Avondale resident affirmed. "I would have."
Barbara, 24, 760 Red Bud Ave., worshipped the young Indian she calls Guru Maharaj Ji and once believed to be God.
"When I was in the cult, if Guru Maharaj Ji had told me to do something I would have done it."
But the approved response to anyone wondering if she would kill for her Lord, however, is, 'Oh, but he'd never ask.'"
Second of three parts
For Guru Maharaj Ji, Barbara turned her back on friends, ignored her degree in economics for a clerical job and became a celibate member of a Cincinnati Divine Light Mission (DLM) commune.
Death and killing in God's name are not unthinkable, she said.
"I know the potential's there in Divine Light Mission.
"And I have a strong suspicion it's there in every cult because when you're doing everything someone's telling you to do without thinking and evaluating it yourself, they could tell you to kill and you'd do that, too."
Barbara, 24, followed her sister, Linda, 22, into DLM more than two years ago.
They travelled widely to see Guru Maharaj Ji, to hear him and to pay homage: "I kissed his feet at every programme," Barbara said. "That was supposed to be the highest experience."
When Guru Maharaj Ji appeared in Rome, she joined thousands of followers in the pilgrimage. "The only thing I saw was the Colosseum from the bus."
Recently, frightened by unwelcome changes in their daughters, Harry and Helen Fabe moved to tear them from the menacing stranger, Guru Maharaj Ji.
Deprogrammers were hired to break Guru Maharaj Ji's influence on Barbara and Linda, using a battery of psychological weapons. Force was not ruled out.
The week before Thanksgiving, the Fabes' North Avondale home became a jail, with windows nailed shut and a lock on every interior and exterior door.
The confrontation began one evening after dinner in the Fabe home. Failure could have cost the Fabes their daughters and a jail term for holding Barbara and Linda against their wills.
In many ways, Barbara and Linda are typical of the bright, strong-willed, affluent, white undergraduates drawn to unconventional religions in the last decade.
The young women were looking for what Barbara called "immortal life, thinking that there must be more than this."
Trendy "consciousness-raising" caught her fancy as a teenager. As Barbara went to various colleges,
"When I was in the cult, if Guru Maharaj Ji had told me to do something, I would have done it."
she recalled, "I was dabbling in various spiritual groups which made promises of peace, happiness and God."
About four years ago, she decided, "I'll need to know meditation and I'll need to have a guru."
"I had heard about the Divine Light Mission, pretty much the bad publicity … Guru Maharaj Ji, young guy, a lot of cars. That whole scene.
"Of course, I was completely turned off. Forget it."
"I want a guru but I don't want some cat with all these cars."
Barbara had checked DLM out in Cincinnati and she responded to their cool welcome, saying, "I didn't feel it was what I was looking for."
Barbara was at a low point emotionally when DLM finally caught her fancy in December, 1976.
In the meantime Linda had become a premie, as the DLM members are called, while at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. And Linda was home from school, full of Guru Maharaj Ji and evangelical zeal.
"I had just broken up with a boyfriend," Barbara recalled.
One evening, on her way to the daily Satsang sessions of praise for Guru Maharaj Ji, meditation and DLM, Linda asked, "Do you feel like going back?"
Barbara said, "I felt, well, what the heck, I don't have anything else to do." That night, they went to satsang.
Before long, Barbara was hooked.
Gradually, what I was doing was rearranging my life around satsang … still not understanding too much what was going on.
Barbara emulated Linda by putting aside her healthy scepticism. Curiosity won.
"I had the feeling there must be some importance to me continuing this discipline because maybe there is something here, maybe this is a true path to God, so I'll check it out."
At home, Barbara, who had defended Linda's involvement in DLM, began to feel the heat. "My parents didn't like it at all and they never had. It was just getting worse and worse and worse. I was getting stronger in my committment to Divine Light Mission and therefore I was hating them. …"
When doubts surfaced, she chose recommittment rather than retreat and admission of error. In this, too, she emulated Linda and so many other young devotees of unconventional religions and their living leaders.
Barbara was unsure how deeply she wanted to be initiated into the secrets of DLM, including the meditation or The knowledge Guru Maharaj Ji says can unite a premie with God.
"I wasn't really sure I wanted to receive the meditation but I kind of enjoyed satsang … It was a nice place to go. I thought I was doing something spiritual which is what I had wanted for so long.
"So I was checking it out."
Barbara wanted something more than her home life and religious education at Isaac M. Wise Temple had given her. I didn't find it in Judaism, whatever it was and I thought there was an "It" so I wanted to find it.
It sounds good. If I thought it was possible, which I did, I thought, "I'm going to get it. I don't care how I get it, but I want it!"
Borred with Cincinnati, she went back to Satsang in North Avondale one night to invite other premies to join her for a ride to Ann Arbor where Linda was back in school.
"Everybody was screaming. Guru Maharaj Ji is having a program in Denver! There's going to be a
"I was programmed. I was not acting of my own free will … I believe I was under hypnosis."
program." I didn't know anything about it. I didn't understand what that was to be so excited about."
When Barbara realized no one would want to go to Ann Arbor and odds were Linda would be in Denver, where Guru Maharaj Ji's DLM is based, she joined her sister and thousands of others in a large auditorium, waiting.
"Guru Maharaj Ji is called the Lord in a cult and he is God, supposedly.
"The energy was high and the anticipation was high … it was the group buildup.
"And then Guru Maharaji came out. He walked out.
"Everybody was screaming, screaming. 'Praise Guru Maharaj Ji.' (n.b. actually they were screaming "Bolie Shri Satguru Dev Maharaj Ki Jai")
"Tears came to my eyes, which is ever significant because I rarely cry Hellip; To me, that was proof.
"Oh, I felt so much energy when Guru Maharaj Ji walked into the room.
"I have to recieve this meditation. He is the One. This is proof to me. I am positive.
"From that point on, I was hooked. I was completely and totally hooked.
"That was all the proof I needed."
Barbara's exposure to the Cincinnati premies had prepared her for that moment.
Hours with praise-singing premies, defensive arguments with her parents, and a conviction that constant happiness, truth and God were attainable made her vulnerable to what happened in Denver.
But it is more than mass hysteria, she said. Cult members can be very effective at one-on-one.
"The person who is in the cult will come up to a nonmember, look them directly in the eye - which, incidentally, is very powerful - and get them completely focused on what they are saying."
They are planting an idea which, in Barbara's case, survived cool, hostile first reactions to DLM and Guru Maharaj Ji.
"When I was initially turned off, the suggestion was still there. In terms of the first few meetings I had with Divine Light Mission, I wasn't really open. I wasn't really susceptible. The time wasn't right for me.
"In my case, I just couldn't buy it. I wasn't ready."
Denver found her ready.
"I was very open."
Premies are not worried if a visitor does not join immediately, Barbara said.
"But you find yourself going back and that's what happened to me. When I found myself going back in 1976, it was like I thought to myself, 'Why am I going back? What is this?'
"And you know how it was explained to me in the cult? 'God wants you here.'"
Barbara is convinced it was sophisticated, effective mind control.
"You are doing something that rationally you know is nuts … It's the suggestion … It is reinforced every time.
"If I just heard about it just one time, chances are very slim that I'd buy it. You're in your rational mind and you know it's nuts.
"Then I ran into another person who told me about it, then another and another … They're salesmen, but more than salesmen, they're adept at mind control.
"Everyone, everyone in every cult has this power. You see other people doing it. It was done to you and you do it.
"The people in the cults … think that the work they're doing is for God and therefore, although to you and I it's completely wrong, to them if it's for God, it's OK."
To hear Barbara tell it, DLM is demoniac.
"The suggestion that was planted was that this must be God because it keeps happening again and again. This must be God's will."
And the promise of Guru Maharaj Ji is not all that bad. "There is a way to God. You will have happiness all the time, complete and total satisfaction 24 hours if you come to satsang. If you learn this meditation, and if you dedicate your life to Guru Maharaj Ji."
Repetition, especially at satsang and programs in various cities where Maharaj Ji appears, is as central to indoctrination in DLM as it is in any religion.
"The constant bombardment with this doctrine is so powerful that even if you understand it, you can't get away from it." Barbara warned, "I was programmed. I was not acting on my own free will … I believe I was under hypnosis."
The appeal of four "secret techniques" of meditation is becoming "merged with God and that is supposed to be the highest thing," Barbara explained. "And right! That was something I was looking for.
When asked about the four techniques, Barbara said she feared retribution if she described The Knowledge.
"I'll tell you why I'm hesitating. I have a fear of the cult. There is a very severe potential in cults for violence."
There also were commandments to be followed by a good premie, Barbara said, including regular attendance at satsang, constant meditation, remembering the holy word, and having faith in Guru Maharaj Ji.
"It's very guilt producing. You can't do any of them. And you're told these are the commandments and you're always striving, always striving and feeling guilty, 'Dammit, I'm not meditating enough, I'm not meditating enough …
By late last year, the world was revolving around Guru Maharaj Ji
"I have a fear of the cult. There is a very severe potential in cults for violence."
and 7:30 p.m. satsang. She had turned her East Walnut hills home into a DLM commune then moved into a larger DLM residence at 820 Delta Ave., Mt. Lookout.
DLM wanted premies to tithe, Barbara said, she was not satisfied by giving 10%. Barbara gave 100% of her income from her clerical job when she still was working.
Until Barbara was trapped with Linda in the family kitchen and turned over to six young deprogrammers, nothing had fallen apart.
Everything was better than ever. If you had asked me how I was, it would be, "Oh, I'm terrific. I'm doing better than I've ever done."